Northern Ireland

UVF agent Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson accused fellow sectarian killer Billy Wright of also working for the state

Former PUP leader David Ervine took part in UVF ‘court martial’

Notorious UVF boss Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson
Notorious UVF boss Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson

Notorious UVF killer and suspected state agent Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson accused Billy Wright of also working as an informer, an inquest has heard.

An inquest into the double murder of a Co Tyrone couple almost 30 years ago also heard that a UVF disciplinary hearing was convened as a result of the accusation “under the heading of David Ervine” – the former leader of the PUP.

Charlie Fox (63) and his wife Tess (53) were gunned down in their home, near Moy in Co Tyrone, in September 1992.

Eight months earlier their son-in-law Kevin McKearney (32), who was married to their daughter Bernie, and his uncle Jack McKearney (70), died after a gun attack at a family-run butchers shop in Moy.

Kevin died instantly, while Jack died later in hospital.

Collusion is strongly suspected in both cases and during an inquest hearing last month it emerged that Jackson was identified by MI5 as a suspect in the McKearney murders.

The latest open inquest hearing was heard in front of coroner Richard Greene on Friday ahead of closed session to consider Public Interest Immunity (PII) applications by security agencies.

PII certificates are sought when state bodies consider information sensitive.

Jude bunting KC, who acts for Bernie McKearney, said material made available to the McKearney inquest revealed that Jackson had complained to the UVF about Wright and his close associate Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton.

Loyalist leaders Mark Fulton and Billy Wright
Mark Fulton and Billy Wright (Alan Lewis)

It is understood the detail is contained in documents provided to the inquest by police.

Both Wright and Fulton are believed to have been involved in multiple sectarian killings and are also suspected of being agents.

“The third point, which we know from the McKearney sensitive disclosure, but not strangely repeated in the Fox sensitive disclosure, is that Robin Jackson, himself a suspected state agent, accused Billy Wright of being a state agent,” Mr Bunting said.

“And that this then led to an absurd disciplinary hearing being convened by the UVF under the heading of David Ervine, which didn’t actually happen.”

The Irish News understands that Jackson made ten accusations to the UVF about Wright and Fulton in 1993.

Some of these included that Wright was an informer and owned a house in the Mahon Road area of Portadown that had been bought by Special Branch, and which was “bugged and wired”.

Jackson also claimed that Wright was involved in a drugs ring.

It understood that both Wright and Fulton were ‘court martialed’ and appeared before a UVF tribunal on the Shankill Road in Belfast, which included David Ervine.

David Ervine – Progressive Unionist Party
David Ervine – Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine died in 2007

It is believed that Jackson failed to appear at the tribunal to present his accusations and that Wright and Fulton were subsequently cleared.

Wright was shot dead by the INLA in the H-Blocks in December 1997, while Fulton is thought to have taken his own life in Maghaberry prison in 2002.

He has been named in court papers as a suspect in the murder of Co Derry GAA official Sean Brown in 1997.

Both men were founding members of the LVF, which was formed in 1996 by Wright after he was expelled from the UVF by its leadership.

In March 1997 Wright was sentenced to eight years in prison after being tried for intent to pervert the course of justice and making a threat to kill.

According to the Billy Wright Inquiry report, Fulton “assumed nominal leadership of the LVF”, however, Wright “continued to be in practice the acknowledged and undisputed leader even when in prison, and he continued to direct operations from his prison cell”.

David Ervine, who died in 2007, is credited with helping to secure UVFs 1994 ceasefire and was a prominent figure during the early years of the peace process.

Speaking outside court solicitor for Bernie McKearney, Peter Corrigan, of Phoenix Law, said: “What continues to emerge is nothing short of shocking given the large volume of information the state had privy to.”